ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a proclamation Tuesday to postpone next month’s primary election until June 2 amid of the coronavirus crisis.
As of Tuesday morning, the state now has 57 confirmed cases, up from 38 the previous day, the governor said during a press conference in Annapolis. So far, more than 130 people in the Washington region have tested positive for the respiratory illness.
Hogan said the recent confirmed cases have been contracted through community transmission and not international travel.
“I have two main priorities: keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote,” he said. “I am directing the state Board of Elections to develop a comprehensive plan by April 3 to conduct the primary election in a way that protects public health and preserves the integrity of the democratic process in our state.”
However, the special election in the 7th Congressional District is still on for April 28, though the election for the seat vacated by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, who represented portions of Baltimore City and sections of Baltimore and Howard counties, will be conducted by mail only.
Hogan said the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, could be postponed from May until September.
The Republican governor also sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting to extend the Real ID compliance deadline. Meanwhile, he ordered for all motor vehicle emission programs to cease operations and direct the state health and transportation departments to repurpose those emission testing locations as drive-thru centers for coronavirus testing.
Other transportation orders include:
• Only traveling passengers and workers will be allowed inside BWI Marshall Airport. Check-in lines will also be eliminated.
• Maryland Transportation Authority will close all customer service centers and cash-less tolling statewide.
• Reduce MARC service by 50 percent and reduce all bus services.
• Suspending all non-commercial driver’s license testing.
While the state has been under a state of emergency for nearly two weeks, Hogan, who serves as president of the National Governors Association, said states need more federal assistance in regard to testing kits and other equipment to combat the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
The state continues to work on opening drive-thru sites to ensure people aren’t waiting in long lines for testing.
“No, we don’t have enough test kits — testing is a problem,” Hogan said. “We don’t want people lined up, jamming in places [for] a test they can’t get.”
Fran Phillips, deputy secretary for state Department of Health, said out-of-pocket costs will be reduced based on provisions from the state Insurance Administration “and make sure we take care of people without insurance.”
As for the public school closures that remain in effect through March 27, state Superintendent Karen Salmon said she will review proposals from school leaders on how to handle future student instruction.
“These two weeks are really giving our school system time to plan and do what they need to do for the duration of this state emergency,” she said. “We’ll be working on those and hopefully implementing some of those plans as soon as next week.”